SEVILLE – A ban on any non-essential use of drinking water is now a reality for tens of thousands of Andalucians. They are no longer allowed to water their gardens, parks or green areas, fill their swimming pools or wash their cars.
First of all, several municipalities in the region of La Axarquía have been forced to take measures to guarantee water consumption in what is already a dry summer. The reservoir they depend on is at 9% of its capacity. Furthermore, the water level has never been this low in the 34 years of the existence of the reservoir La Viñuela.
In Velez-Málaga (which also includes the resort of Torre del Mar), Benamargosa, Almachar, Iznate and El Borge, the water supply will be shut off from 11.30 pm to 7.00 am. In the former municipality, the restrictions are expected to affect the entire village, according to water company Aqualia. This schedule may be extended depending on daily water reserve levels.
The measure was passed after the board announced that since last Wednesday, the supply from the dam would be reduced by 20%. These 14 municipal councils (the five mentioned and Benamocarra, Comares, Cútar, Macharaviaya, Moclinejo, Rincón de la Victoria, Totalán, Algarrobo and Torrox) will have to adapt to a maximum supply of 170 litres per inhabitant per day, compared to the 212 they consume so far. These places are considering measures that will be announced soon.
During a press conference, Velez-Málaga Environment Councilor Rocío Ruiz stressed that the measures “are aimed at reducing the consumption of drinking water”, while non-potable water “can be used normally”. She added that efforts will also be made to use this water more efficiently in irrigation, as “we should all try to reduce water consumption”.
Raising awareness about “extraordinary drought”
Jesús María Claros, Councilor of Water Affairs of the Municipality of Velez-Málaga, announced campaigns to raise public awareness of the need to save water due to the “exceptional emergency resulting from the extraordinary drought”. He explained that they are trying to reduce water consumption by 20%.
The Velez-Malaga city council announced last Thursday an ordinance to reduce the demand for urban water supply by at least 20% to guarantee water supply for the population during the summer.
Filling private pools is also prohibited
The regulation prohibits the use of drinking water for watering gardens, parks or green areas, whether public or private. The same goes for watering golf courses and hosing down streets, sidewalks, facades or other surfaces, both public and private. Filling or refilling private swimming pools, washing cars outside the authorised facilities, using fountains without a closed water system, showers and public water taps is also prohibited, as is any other non-essential use of drinking water.
In Iznate, the water for the water supply is shut off at night from 10.00 pm to 10.00 am the next day, to reduce water consumption by at least 20%, as stipulated in the Drought Decree and by the competent authorities.
This measure will be continued to guarantee the water supply in the urban area for as long as possible. It is also emphasised that the water from the water supply is for human use only and that watering plants, gardens, lawns, fruit trees, filling and refilling swimming pools, washing vehicles, hosing down streets and any other use of water is not permitted.
In Almachar, Mayor Antonio Yuste has also announced that the water supply will be temporarily stopped from midnight to 7.00 am on Friday, June 30. Restrictions will also be imposed on the use of public water sources, except the closed-system ornamental fountains and those that are not part of the public network. As in other municipalities, Almáchar is also calling for responsible water use and compliance with the ordinance.
In El Borge, an ordinance has also been issued by Mayor Raúl Vallejo announcing the temporary shutdown of water to ensure service. Moreover, it is advised not to store drinking water that could be wasted. The water cut will take place from midnight to 7.00 am.
Not only is La Axarquía in bad shape. In Cartama (inland near the city of Málaga) the municipality decided to ban filling swimming pools and watering gardens with drinking water from Saturday as part of measures to reduce consumption.
Mayor Jorge Gallardo has issued an ordinance following a notification from the Junta’s Ministry of Agriculture indicating that a positive report has been issued on the declaration of exceptional drought in the downstream area of the Guadalhorce River.
In this municipality with more than 27,000 inhabitants, the use of drinking water for cleaning streets, sidewalks or facades, filling swimming pools and watering gardens, parks and green areas is prohibited. Washing cars outside authorised facilities, using unlocked fountains, showers and public water points, as well as any other non-essential use of drinking water is also prohibited. The mayor warns in the ordinance that failure to comply with these obligations may lead to sanctions.
Province of Cordoba
Since last Monday and for several days, the water supply has been interrupted between 10.00 pm and 6.00 am in the north of the province of Córdoba (Andalucia). In addition, it is requested “not to build up a water supply”. According to the provincial water company, this is a “temporary interruption of the water supply” in the 24 municipalities in the regions of Guadiato and Los Pedroches.
Province of Huelva
The lack of water is latent in the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche. In six municipalities in the region of northwestern Andalucia, the water supply is already interrupted at different times of the day. Cumbres Mayores, Santa Olalla del Cala, Cala, Cañaveral de León, Higuera de la Sierra and Cortelazor are the affected places whose inhabitants have to adapt to the established schedules due to the gradual decrease in the reserves of the aquifers that feed the region.
Every day between 1.00 am and 6.00 am there is no more water coming out of the tap. In addition, a call has been made to all residents to “use water responsibly given the large increase in consumption that takes place during the summer months”.
A big problem for tourism
In Vélez-Málaga and Torre del Mar, hoteliers warn of the damage to the tourism sector that the measures could cause. In addition, they criticise the lack of prior information and ask for an extension from midnight to one in the morning.
In this regard, the chairman of the ACET in SUR predicted that from now on “many entrepreneurs will have to store water in kitchens and bathrooms or we will have to close the companies earlier because without water one cannot work. An ice cream parlour, a cafe or a pub, which are full at twelve o’clock or one o’clock, what are they going to do now?”, he wonders. “It’s unhygienic, it doesn’t make sense what they’ve decided and there’s a lot of dissatisfaction among entrepreneurs because we don’t have any official information,” the president of ACET noted.
The main representative of the entrepreneurs of Torre del Mar acknowledges that there is “fear that this drastic measure” could be detrimental to the good tourist prospects for this summer in the capital of the Axarquía. “Let’s hope that people are now really aware of the great water shortage we have and that we all do our best to save as much as possible,” Pastor argued.